So, apparently, Moses is now a violent revolutionary.
I haven’t seen the new movie Exodus: Gods & Kings. But I’ve seen the commercials. Christian Bale plays Moses in the latest Bible-character-action-hero blend. And from all I can see, he is a version of Moses that looks more like Muhammed than the shepherd from Midian. Once again, we see that problems are solved by faith and prayer …plus the sword!
The same thing was done with the movie A Beautiful Mind 2… er… uhhhh… I mean… Noah. (Sorry. I sometimes get confused between movies where Jennifer Connelly plays the loyal and patient wife of a driven psychotic played by Russell Crowe.) The whole idea of a man of faith who quietly obeys and sees GOD do the amazing is lost amid the noise and chaos of “good” violence.
One of the most fascinating aspects to this whole thing is the lack of intelligence and imagination it betrays. Movie-makers obviously can no longer deliver an epic plot that doesn’t involve explosive action scenes and in which evil is only overcome by force. Which means, of course, that movie audiences can no longer handle such plots.
My chief complaint about Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies is the sad pandering to moronic audiences who need every film to be louder and more explosive than the last. He had a perfect opportunity to show a quieter, slower, more considered story from Middle-Earth (all he would have had to do is stay within two or three miles of the book), and he forsook it for a comparatively insipid cash cow. But this is apparently what movie-goers now expect for their ticket money. Give us shows that go BOOOOM! I wonder when they’ll make a new movie about Gandhi which shows him as a violent revolutionary. If they did, people would probably pay big money to see it… provided a sufficient amount of bullets and bombs making carnage in the streets of Calcutta.
I shudder at the thought that many Christians will probably think it’s cool that Moses is portrayed as a warrior—the same Christians who seem to think that the point of the temple-cleansing scenes in the gospels is to show that Jesus was a manly, muscular butt-kicker who got in people’s faces and said, “Oh no, you ditn’t! Not in MY house!”
In all of the commercials and pictures from the Exodus movie that I have seen so far, Moses looks grim and angry while Pharaoh looks thoughtful, painfully concerned, and a little taken aback by the rage of Moses. I wonder what that is supposed to signify. Maybe that the prophetic types who hear from God tend to need to get the job done by going a little over the top, and so those who represent the system will likely feel attacked by mean-spirited jerks?… I don’t know.
At any rate, without having seen the movie yet, it is already clear that we will be treated to another colossal study in missing the point. Sure, Moses did the good violence thing once. He smote and killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew. And the narrative of Exodus is written to show us that this did not succeed in bringing about God’s good end. As James puts it, “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (1:20). Following Moses’ attempt to use violent means to address injustice, God brought him out into the wilderness to tend sheep for forty years. Then he sent him back to Egypt to draw out Israel, not to draw out a sword. (“Drawn-Out” is the meaning of the name “Moses.”)
In the great scene in which the newly free Israelites find themselves caught between Pharaoh and the deep Red Sea, it is not violence which secures their deliverance. It is not ANY human machination whatsoever. Here is what Moses actually says to Israel at that moment:
It is not our weapons, nor even our courage, nor even our faith in God which delivers us. It is GOD who delivers us! All by Himself, without any help from us, He will bring us His Yeshua (salvation). He wants all the credit for Himself.
Maybe this new Exodus movie will feature a scene like this:
Moses: “Let my people go!”
Pharaoh: “I will. I swear to God!”
Moses: “Swear to ME!”
[Rolled eyes and tired sigh go here.]
Okay. So here is the good news.
Christians, this is our time to shine like stars in the world, holding out the word of life. This is exactly how we should be different from the world around us. It’s not that the world is violent and we are non-violent. That is the outward sign of the Truth. The point is that world cannot imagine a faith that does not need to secure the good by force. But we can show them that… Can’t we?…
I mean it when I say this is the good news. The good news we share with the world is about how we were powerless to do anything about our plight and God stepped in, sending His Yeshua to save us. And now, amid the scariness of a world wherein the violent threaten us, financial security is a vanishing dream and our own sins threaten to destroy us, we can, by faith, stand still and watch the salvation of the Lord!